UK Rum Festivals – Bristol Rum Festival Weekend

Bristol Rum Festival UK Rum Festivals Review by the fat rum pirateUntil just a few weeks ago I had never visited Bristol before.  The first time I visited was for a training course with work.  The second time was to visit the Bristol Rum Festival. Needless to say the visits were quite different……

Bristol Rum Festival was held on the 9th September 2017 at The Paintworks event space.  The event was part of the UK Rum Festivals series of events which have taken on the cities of Cardiff, Exeter and finally Bristol.  Giving the South West of England a taste of the Caribbean. The events were organised by Rum and Tiki Enthusiast and Rum Importer Jon Rees.  We interviewed Jon earlier in the year.

My weekend began on the Friday with a train journey to Newcastle Airport from Sunderland followed by a short flight down to Bristol Airport.  The train journey was longer than the flight……..

After a short taxi ride I arrived at my hotel (the closest one I could find near the Paintworks event).  Due to a sporting injury my best rum mates and chaperones Steve and Barnali James decided against the event.  Ensuring Steve is fighting fit for the London Rumfest in October.

to the moon bristol rum review by the fat rum pirate

Luckily, I had been invited by Chris Davis to visit his Rum and Cocktail bar To The Moon.It was early Friday evening and I was initially the only person in the bar.  It’s quite a small bar (half the space is a boutique ran by Chris’ girlfriend Gemma).

I had a good chat with Chris and Gemma about rum and most things in general!  They were really friendly, welcoming hosts.  As the time passed a number of people popped into the bar for a drink or three.

During my time there I enjoyed a Mai Tai and a Daiquiri from the very reasonably priced Cocktail menu.  I also enjoyed an equally well priced shot of Hee Joy Spiced Rum and Abuelo 12 Year Old.  Rums I had never tried before.

Chris has a good selection of rums which will cover most palates.  It’s not a mega exclusive or expensive selection but the prices of drinks was good and the selection is way better than most bars.  The Cocktails were all made with fresh ingredients and nicely but together to the moon rum review bar by the fat rum pirateas well.

He is also always looking to expand his rum selection by introducing a new brand or two each month.  It’s well worth a visit if you are down Bristol.

Next following directions from Chris I moved further into the City Centre.  Bristol is quite a large spread out city.  I’m more used to smaller places such as Newcastle and Sunderland.  So I did get a bit lost!

Luckily I quickly got my bearings and after probably taking the long way around I found myself at The Rummer Hotel.  I figured that with it being the weekend of a Rum Festival I might bump into someone who was down the for the festival.  If not I’d just stay for a couple of drinks and head back to the hotel – fresh for the next day.

After ordering a Bristol Classic Rum Jamaica and a cocktail – the name of which escapes me I was greeted by the familar sight of Peter Thornton.

Peter is the UK Ambassador for Pusser’s Rum and works for Cellar Trends.  I’d met Peter at both Newcastle and Manchester Rum Festivals.  At Manchester he came out with a group of us for a meal the night before the fest.

With him was Stoli Vodka and Bayou Rum Ambassdor Simone Bondi.  So I had some company for the rest of the night……..

Rummer HotelThe Rummer Hotel has a really extensive selection of rums and other spirits (as pictured).  I tried a couple of their cocktails and we enjoyed a couple more of the rums.

The Rummer Hotel is very much a gastropub and they have a restaurant in the basement – which seems to have a very good name.

Whilst I found the rum selection to be impressive I didn’t find the service all that great.  The staff weren’t particularly friendly and somewhat lacking in the knowledge department despite being slightly aloof.

I’d go back for the rum but not the service.

We then looked at going somewhere else.  The Milk Thistle is a famous cocktail bar so we thought we would try there.  Following some questionable directions from Google Maps we turned up at The Milk Thistle.  Despite it not appearing very busy we were advised we would need to book an appointment to come back later.

Being Northern I can’t stand that kind of carry on – faux exclusivity so although Peter did book us an “appointment” I knew I wasn’t going to turn up later!

Instead we decided it might be time for some dinner.  Turtle Bay was visible so we thought – Why Not?

I always really enjoy Turtle Bay which is a chain of Caribbean themed restaurants.  And yes rum is very much on the menu.

We shared a Jerk Platter and I had Bajan Beef Cheeks with rice and peas.  We also shared some of the excellent Cheesy Jerk Fries.  And I may have a Ting Wray (or three).

Folllowing the meal I bid Peter and Simone good night and headed for a taxi to return to the hotel.  I was tucked up in bed and asleep by 11pm.

So i woke up bright and breezy in time for the main event. Honest.

Bristol Rum Festival

Following a short walk to the Paintworks venue, I approached the venue. I was greeted by Jon and Debbie Rees who were the organisers of the event.  Once the gates opened I was welcomed by Nick Rodgers of Plantation Rum who was very keen to ensure I had a Plantation Pineapple henna tattoo on my hand for the duration of the event!  Thanks Nick!

Bristol Rum Festival review by the fat rum pirateI was quite surprised that not everyone turned up at 12 – there was a steady stream of people arriving throughout the afternoon.  So I was amongst the first to enter the venue.

I was waved over by JBE Imports Jon – who imports Ron Cubay, Ron de Santiago and Tomohawk Maple Cream (amongst other brands).  He was keen for me to try his new Santiago de Cuba 11 Year Old.  It was fun comparing and contrasting between the 11 and 12 year old in the line up.

The two Jon’s (Jonathan Rees and John Braham-Everett) are responsible for the Tiki Cocktail Box which I recently signed up for.  So Jon gave me the details of the 5th installment which will include Ron Cubay Anejo and a  custom designed Tiki Mug.

I then made my way over to see Simone who was promoting Bayou Rum.  I tried the range – Silver, Select and Spiced.  I was pleasantly suprised by the rums and the honesty and transparency of the sales pitch.  I’ll certainly be looking to pick up a bottle of the Select in the future.

I then tried a range of Cachaca’s starting with a stand which was promoting an eclectic mix of rums and liquors.  Matuselum Rum was placed alongside Stroh 80 and BemBom Premium Cachaca.  Having tried the BemBom I was directed to another Cachaca stand presented by Weber Haus.

Bristol Rum Festival review by the fat rum pirateI sampled a number of their Cachacas (around 8) and could certainly taste the difference as I moved up the range.  They are currently in negotiations to get distribution in the UK.  I’ll look forward to that.

Next up I chatted with a couple of familiar rum enthusiasts and people who follow the site.  I then had a few tastings at the Mezan, Doorlys and Neptune Rum stand to get my “Bajan” and “Jamaican” fix.

The Paintworks venue worked really well.  It was a really good space for an event.  The main exhibitors hall never got stupidly crowded and having the food stalls outside in the courtyard worked well.  As did the outdoor seminar area (when it wasn’t raining).

The bar which offered nine cocktails to try – three cocktails made from Doorly’s, Revolver and Pussers Rum – was also well positioned.  Three cocktails for £18 offered good value as well.

The Paintworks Event Space which was used for this event was really well proportioned and the space was used to excellent effect by the organisers.  The steady stream of guests also meant that the event – whilst busy never felt overcrowded.Bristol Rum Festival review by the fat rum pirate

I attended a couple of the rum seminars – one with Simone Bondi – Bayou Rum and another with Mangrove which sought to teach us about historical cocktails such as “Grog”.

For a newbie or less experienced Rum Enthusiast the Festival offers a very good cross section of most rum styles – having a stand devoted to Cachaca was also a welcome addition.  Even a more experienced Rum Taster would find new expressions to taste and savour at this event.  Stands inclu

In addition to the various Rum stands there was also a stand selling Tiki mugs and Cocktail Chocolates.  Manned by James and Sian Petter.  Exotic Tramp offer a range of rum filled dark chocolate delights.  The Pussers Rum Truffles are particularly good.  I will be featuring their chocolates in more details soon on the site.

Rum Brands featured at the event were Ron Cubay, Santiago de Cuba, Pusser’s, Revolver, Plantation, El Dorado, Bayou, Mezan, Doorly’s/Foursquare, Weber Haus Cachaca and Elements Eight amongst many others!

Considering you could get an Early Bird ticket for just £15 (usual entry price £30) this event really was very good value for money.  Once at the Paintworks nothing – drinks and food were overpriced either.

Bristol Rum Festival review by the fat rum pirateAn after party event was held at Bambalan in Bristol City Centre.  I’m not going to lie………

It was a little hazy.  Great weekend though, well organised and very enjoyable.  A really great day out.

Thanks again Jon and Debbie!







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